And with the sun shining and many employees looking wistfully out of the window, it is as easy to write it off as the kind of altruistic gesture most organisations don’t have the time or the money for.
I would urge employers to think again. Work/life balance isn’t irrelevant and it isn’t just about more days off, longer lunch breaks and shorter days. There are all kinds of ways to accommodate the different lifestyles of an organisation’s employees – job-sharing, sabbaticals, flexitime and shift-swapping to name a few. What is important is that organisations create the right fit between the needs of the business, its customers and its employees.
This carries particular resonance for customer-facing industries, like accountancy, where employees often have to fit around the needs of the customer, irrespective of the extra time this may require. Whatever work/life balance initiatives are used, the underlying premise must be that everyone will benefit.
It is when organisations take this holistic approach to creating flexible working environments that work/life balance is at its most effective as a business tool.
It can improve loyalty and customer satisfaction, reduce turnover and absenteeism, and encourage the creativity and innovation that organisations need. It can help attract more people and make current teams more energised and productive.
I would like to see an increase in the number of organisations reaping these kinds of benefits. Furthermore, I believe we are going to have to see an increase if this country’s productivity is to improve.
While it is important that work/life balance is on government and employee agendas, its ultimate business benefits should make it an imperative for forward thinking employers.